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TechCrunch hypes the Google Phone, contradicts itself repeatedly

TechCrunch‘s coverage of the so-called “Google Phone” really is turning into something of a joke. Today, it’s probably reached a new low.

First up, Erick Schonfeld claims that current “reports” confirm their own original excitable post, quoting this bit:

“There won’t be any negotiation or compromise over the phone’s design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be.” [My emphasis]

Leaving aside whether Google’s post actually “confirms” what TechCrunch is saying (my take: No), there’s an obvious issue here. Far from Google “dictating every last bit of it”, now it’s rather a different phone. Erick writes:

“The phone itself is being built by HTC, with a lot of input from Google. It seems to be a tailored version of the HTC Passion or the related HD2 (Unlocker scored some leaked pictures back in October which are of the same phone).”

So which is it? Because, unless I have completely lost my ability to read, “[Google] dictating every last piece of it” is not the same as “with a lot of input from Google”.

And it wouldn’t even be the first time that HTC has tailored a phone to another company’s specifications. It’s common practice for HTC – witness the T-Mobile G1 as just one example of many.

(As an aside, the photos that TechCrunch are using under all its stories headlined about “The Google Phone” are the Unlocker ones which John mentions. In other words, TechCrunch has no pictures of the “real” Google phone running Google’s tailored software, despite the implication of putting the months-old pics next on the new stories.)

“It changes everything! Well, no, maybe something else did!”

Erick’s colleague John Biggs is even more breathless about the “Google Phone”. It’s “going to change everything”, he claims, with the caveat “mostly” because even he can’t go with a headline that implies Google is going to solve global warming with a mobile phone.

But why does John think it’s a big deal? Simple:

“But what if Google starts to sell this thing? This is “a big deal” on the level of Neo learning Kung Fu in The Matrix. This means Google is making hardware.”

Of course, Google has been “making hardware” – as in rebadging other people’s hardware with its own custom software – since 2002, when it first launched the Google Search Appliance. But let’s not let facts get in the way of page views. Let’s be kind, and assume that John means “Google is making consumer hardware.

John’s main point is that this represents part of a wave of service providers making hardware, and it’s actually this wave that changes everything:

“But suddenly service providers are doing hardware. Amazon has the Kindle, Barnes&Noble has a lumpen Nook, and now Google has a phone. What’s next? The Credit Suisse Fondue Set?”

Ummm… but wait a minute. So in fact, the Google phone – unreleased, it should be remembered – is what changes everything, yet in the same article he’s naming examples of other things which already exist that are in the same category? Can anyone else see what might be wrong with this picture?

Even assuming he was right, surely it would be the Kindle which “changes everything” given that it was the first of the named products to get to market – and arguably, given that it really was designed and built to Amazon’s specs is a far better example of the breed than the unreleased Google phone?

Contradictions, schmicktions!

Two stories, both of which contradict the points that they’re trying to make within a few words of making them. I don’t want to draw any wider conclusions about the “State of Tech Reporting” on the basis of this, primarily because I think that anyone who relies on TechCrunch for tech reporting is, at best, obviously unfamiliar with the site’s record.

But what both Erick and John display is a classic case of what happens when reporting collides with enthusiasm. In the rush to get the exciting post up and out, they simply haven’t thought about what they were writing.

They’ve put on the blinkers of enthusiasm when writing, and have ended up with stories that add up to little more than the sound of two men fapping. But hey – it gets the page views. And we get the media we’re prepared to pay for.

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